sleep headphones
We take you through a list of headphones designed for sleep, and others that work well to block out a snoring partner and feel less obtrusive against the pillow. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Does relaxing music put your running mind to sleep? Then, you might have just found a sleep aid that works for you. In other cases, music could be the only way to mask noisy partners, neighbours or a nearby construction site. Don't put up with slippery earplugs and uncomfortable earmuffs - invest in headphones designed for sleep, instead.

What are sleep headphones?

'Sleep headphones' is an overarching term - the device comes in various form factors, from over-ear cans and earbuds to headbands and earphones. All attempt to cancel noise and play music for a good night's rest. On the surface level, these gadgets don't seem any different from regular noise-cancelling headphones and earbuds.

"The biggest difference between sleep headphones and other types, is how they sit on your ear," said Reza Moradi, an audiovisual producer, instructor at Canadian University Dubai, and an Adobe creative educator, who has over 10 years of experience.

He explained: "All of us will have difficulty with something that adds pressure to our ears and head, but sleep headphones are designed to provide a comfortable physical attachment while playing audio. Basically, you can lean on them. The design doesn't only remove that pressure, but most types also block out light by covering the eyes, as well".

Those that provide both ear and eye coverage are sleep headbands with small and flat speakers, which Moradi recommends for comfort. If you're not a side sleeper, then other options like earbuds and earphones could work, too.

Do sleep headphones really work?

sleep headphones
There's no recommended audio for sleeping - any soothing sound that helps us de-stress can work. Image Credit: Amazon

The pitter-patter of the rain, sounds of distant thunder and other auditory experiences can feel like a warm hug before bed. According to our sleep expert, relaxing music might be helpful in chasing away the day's stress, making us sleepier.

Dr Shadi Sharifi, MD, neurologist and French-certified sleep medicine specialist at Saudi German Hospital Dubai, said: "Relaxing music affects brain activity. When we're concentrated, the brain is in beta activity, generating high-frequency waves. As we switch to a transitional state, from awake to relaxed and finally sleeping, it's in alpha activity, a period where we're neither fully awake nor asleep. Relaxing music might be helpful in reaching this stage".

Any audio that can assist the shift from beta to alpha waves, is a good choice, she adds. Sleep headphones can also mask stress-induced tinnitus (ringing in the ears), "if it's not related to pre-existing conditions, such as hypertension, allergies and other primary causes".

However, there are important implications to consider before using them. Our sleep expert cautions against long-term use and loud volume. "Make sure the volume is at least 60 per cent of the maximum level. And, the use of these is not recommended every single night. Listening to any type of music long-term can affect the cochlear, which can cause hearing loss that might be irreversible," said Dr Sharifi.

Wearing headphones to sleep can be great for bettering sleep quality, only if they're used in moderation or from time to time.

Which sleep headphones are the best for me?

Comfort can be a massive dealbreaker with sleep headphones, so think about your sleeping style. If you're going to be resting on your ear, try flatter or fabric-based models. Moradi says a wireless connection and a long battery life are other factors to consider.

Then, think about whether you're willing to spend on a pair that's only reserved for sleeping. Some traditional earbuds for everyday use also do a decent job of keeping the surroundings quiet, as long as they're comfortable to wear to bed. And, a higher price point can get you active noise cancellation (ANC) to truly seal away the outside world.

Editor's tip
Audiophiles can get up to 20 per cent off on true wireless headsets on Amazon. Products on sale include headphones and earbuds from Sony, Sennheiser, Marshall and many more.

We've included a wide range of options below, featuring picks by our experts. Amazon currently has deals on wireless headsets, so you're just in time. Get a Prime subscription to get free, fast delivery.

1. Best Overall: SleepPhones AcousticSheep Wireless, Fleece Fabric


  • Soft, machine-washable fabric
  • Flat speakers for side sleepers
  • On-body audio controls
  • Battery life of up to 10 hours


  • No noise cancellation

Our best pair for sleeping is integrated into a soft, machine-washable headband that doubles as an eye mask. Moradi picks SleepPhones' AcousticSheep headphones for having removable speakers. These extremely thin and flat drivers are designed with the side sleeper in mind, delivering audio without the need for in-ear tips. The wireless headband goes anywhere and works for anyone looking to mask their tinnitus and snoring, whether in bed or on a flight. Pair it with your smartphone via Bluetooth and get up to 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Play, pause and volume controls are on the body. Reviewers say the battery lasts them throughout the night, and the audio quality is good enough. They also listen to audiobooks and podcasts in bed, reporting that no sound leaks out to disturb their partner. AcousticSheep is available in different sizes and two types of fabric.

Warranty: The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty. Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh18 and two years for Dh25.

2. Best Noise-Cancelling Earbuds: Bose QuietComfort® Noise Cancelling Earbuds II


  • Comes with Bose Fit Kit with different pairs of ear tips and stability bands
  • Active noise cancellation using four mics
  • Quiet and aware modes
  • Charging case takes battery life to up to 24 hours


  • Limited battery life, without the case

According to Dr Sharifi, her patients have had great luck with the Bose QuietComfort earbuds. As you sleep, they cancel environmental noise actively and passively using four mics, as well as in-ear silicone tips. Turn on Quiet Mode to remove any sound in the vicinity while listening to music, or enjoy your sleep playlist on Aware Mode if you need to keep an ear out for baby's cries. Its CustomTune technology calibrates sound to suit each listener's unique ears for the best performance. The earbuds arrive with a Bose Fit Kit, containing three pairs of ear tips and three pairs of stability bands to allow them to fit better, as attested by reviewers with small ears. Compared to the SleepPhones headband, these have a shorter battery life of up to six hours, but you can always pop them back in their charging case to get 24 hours. Reviewers wear these to bed to block out snoring and noisy neighbours with active noise cancellation and relaxing music. They only wish that the battery life was longer.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay AED 68.93 for 12 months with select banks. 

3. Best Earbuds for Side Sleepers: Wedoking Mini Sleep Earbuds


  • Passive noise cancellation with silicone ear tips
  • Low-profile buds that are flat lay on
  • No low battery alerts
  • Tucks into the concha with ear fins


  • No active noise cancellation

Side sleepers can find options in earbuds, too. These will usually have a flat, low profile, be incredibly lightweight and seem undetectable in the ears - much like the Wedoking sleep earbuds. Their design features small loops or fins that tuck into the concha, thereby, securing the buds from falling out. Unlike the Bose QuietComfort model, these do not send out low battery alerts nor do they have on-body touch controls. Granted, there's no active noise cancellation, either, but the silicone tips seal well enough to buffer noise to up to 24 decibels, which is as quiet as whispering. The Wedoking buds excel on all fronts, save for the audio quality, note reviewers, who add that this is not a dealbreaker. While the sound is just decent, the earbuds are comfortable to lay on, pair quickly with devices and perform quietly without disturbing sleep.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh18 and two years for Dh29.

4. Best Value for Headband: Musicozy Sleep Headphones


  • Contoured foam to relieve eye pressure
  • Battery life of up to 10 hours
  • No light or sound alerts
  • Blocks out light
  • Adjustable for different head sizes


  • Speakers can be felt through the mask, note some reviewers

The Musicozy sleep headphones are Moradi's second pick, which resemble an eye mask more than a headband. Just like traditional sleep masks, the headphones have a 3D contour design on the inside to relieve pressure from your eyes. This memory foam and silk lining not only offers premium comfort, but thoroughly blocks out any light. As for the audio, two hours of charge gives you 10 hours of continuous operation via Bluetooth, free of disturbing beeps and alerts. It even includes a microphone for answering calls in bed. Reviewers are amazed at the improvement in their sleep quality, calling the mask a game changer. Though it doesn't cancel noise, some buyers have been able to mask snoring with music. Others use it to meditate, since the fabric is soft and comfortable around the eyes.

Bonus: Get 10 per cent off when you apply a coupon at checkout.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh12 and two years for Dh19.

5. Best Open-Ear Earbuds: Oladance Open Ear Headphones


  • Comfortable to wear to sleep
  • Open-ear design allows for some transparency
  • Can be used with earplugs
  • Up to 16 hours of battery life
  • Great sound quality


  • No active noise cancellation

If you find in-ear buds painful, but dislike the wraparound feel of a headband, try open-ear buds. Oladance's Bluetooth headphones have an open-ear design, meaning the large 16.5mm drivers sit outside the ear without blocking the canal. They fit snugly around the natural curve of the ear, staying put throughout all the tossing and turning in bed. You get up to 16 hours of playtime per charge to last you two nights. And, though the design makes them great for sleeping, the pair can easily replace your daily headsets for work, exercise and sports. Reviewers who sleep with these on say they forget that they're wearing them. Users like that they can have an ear out for emergencies, even when the buds are playing music - but, passive noise cancelling can also be had by adding earplugs. Most are impressed with the quality of the audio, which they claim is better than that of bone-conduction headphones

Bonus: Get Dh220 off when you apply a coupon at checkout. Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh55 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh40 and two years for Dh66.

6. Best Value for ANC: Best Soundcore by Anker Life A2 NC


  • Insert, twist and lock for a secure fit
  • Active noise cancellation that has different modes
  • Soundcore app allows customisation
  • Up to 35 hours of battery life, with charging case


  • Might not be comfortable for side sleepers

Soundcore Life A2 NC looks a lot like our Wedoking pick, complete with the ear fins and compact design. Except, these buds actively cancel noise. You can choose the noise cancellation mode, depending on where you are - transport, outdoor or indoor - and hear 90 per cent less chatter and more music. The buds are equipped with 11mm drivers that generate deeper bass, together with six mics for clear calls that remove wind and other background noise. Though these don't come with a flat profile for side sleepers, several reviewers have worn these to bed for audiobooks and masking snoring. They also love the customisation options on the Anker app, where noise cancellation and sound can be tweaked. Others find them a perfect fit for their small ears.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh18 and two years for Dh29.

7. Best Wired Pair: Moondrop CHU In-Ear Earphone


  • Spring tips seal ear canals more effectively
  • In-ear monitors for better audio clarity
  • Comes with an in-line mic
  • Doesn't need charging


  • No active noise cancellation
  • Needs a 3.5mm headphone adapter for phones with USB-C ports

Wired earphones may seem less than ideal for sleeping, but rave reviews for this pair say otherwise. Side sleepers vouch for the Moondrop Chu in-ear monitors (IEMs), as the cable tucks behind the ear and the body is flat. They offer passive noise cancellation with ear sealing tips, and audio depth and clarity like no other earbud, since IEMs are employed by sound engineers and musicians. Moondrop's ear tips are also slightly different - they're more comfortable and seal better than regular tips, say reviews. Plus, a wired connection also solves the hassle of losing battery in the middle of the night. 

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.